Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Glastonbury, Paul and Don
Watching Glastonbury has become an annual treat. Not for me the mud and camp sites, I prefer to watch the music from the pyramid stage on my rectangular TV. I grew up on Prog Rock - the old staple diet of the Pilton Pop Festival (what Glastonbury started out as) so guitar bands are always a draw for me.
I didn't catch everything but loved Elbow, The Kaiser Chiefs, Pendulum, Cold Play and Laura Marling. Lady B was an astonishing closing act.
My biggest disappointment was seeing Paul Simon struggling with the high notes - a throat infection is not what you want for Glastonbury. But the stand out ageing legend was Don Mclean. His voice got better and better through his set and his extended extended version of American Pie was joyous.
I've remained a big fan for years. As he said from the stage, he is a craftsman - I'd say a master craftsman. He knows how to write a tune and how to wrap the words around it. It was one of those moments that made me feel 17 again.
But back to Paul Simon. My collection of his music is comprehensive, got just about everything there is on CD. As I say I was looking forward to his set but wondered how he'd fair at the UK's biggest festival. He may have played Central Park but Somerset in the daylight is altogether a different proposition.
But it's not his first visit to the West Country. He made some TV shows in Bristol back in the early eighties with my old mentor John King. The BBC studios at Bristol were small, intimate even. More like a exclusive club atmosphere and that's what they tried to create. But Simon can be a prickly beast and he had a particular worry - and it had nothing to do with the size of the studio or the swaying folk types sitting on bales of hay. No, he was worried about his bald spot being caught on camera. The way John told the story it was the most pressing thing on his mind.
So, John being the maverick that he was, decided there was only one thing for it. He sent a researcher off to the office. Ten minutes later he's standing over one of music's greatest living geniuses filling in his bald spot with a marker pen.